in The Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the Monster

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780226160559
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226160573 | DOI:

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The flipside of perfecting or regenerating mankind is the potential for degenerating or destroying the human race. Regeneration could serve as a trope for nation-building, but it could also signify a monstrous attempt to challenge divine prerogatives to make or take away life. The monster's threat draws on a vein of scientific writing that coupled biology with aesthetics to establish the increasingly normative human science that would dominate nineteenth-century thought. A tension between monstrosity and ordinariness figures prominently in eighteenth-century images of monsters. The scientific eye purported to penetrate the mysteries of humanity by weaving together observations and theories on aberrant genetics, improper obstetrics, or deviations in physiology. Scientists have penetrated nature's secrets and forced into strange new combinations.

Keywords: mankind; scientific eye; human science; nature; monstrous

Chapter.  6899 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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